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Amazon logistics center on April 21 in Bretigny-sur-Orge, France. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Amazon announced on Wednesday it would stop supplying U.S. police officers with its facial recognition technology for one year amid a nationwide push for police reform.

What they're saying: "We’ve advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge. We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested."

The big picture: A federal study found that facial recognition systems offered by Amazon, Microsoft and IBM largely failed to identify people of color, predominately Asians and African Americans. Amazon did not submit its algorithm to the study, per the Washington Post.

  • A 2018 MIT Media Lab study found that Amazon's facial recognition system was the worst at identifying darker-skinned women, which the company has disputed.
  • Amazon has asked federal policymakers to judge how government agencies and law enforcement use the tech.

Driving the news: IBM announced to Congress on Tuesday that it is exiting the general-purpose facial recognition business entirely — a stronger stance than Amazon. IBM also said it opposes the use of such technology for mass surveillance and racial profiling.

What they're saying: "It took two years for Amazon to get to this point, but we’re glad the company is finally recognizing the dangers face recognition poses to Black and Brown communities and civil rights more broadly," Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties director with the ACLU in California said in a statement on Wednesday.

  • “This surveillance technology’s threat to our civil rights and civil liberties will not disappear in a year. Amazon must fully commit to a blanket moratorium on law enforcement use of face recognition until the dangers can be fully addressed, and it must press Congress and legislatures across the country to do the same. They should also commit to stop selling surveillance systems like Ring that fuel the over-policing of communities of color," Ozer said.
  • Digital rights group Fight for the Future, which has called on Congress to ban the government's use of facial recognition, called Amazon's moratorium "nothing more than a public relations stunt" in a statement on Wednesday.

Go deeper: How AI police surveillance treats people of color

Go deeper

Amazon defends working with oil companies to reach its zero-carbon goal

Kara Hurst in Seattle.

Partnering with oil and gas producers is necessary for Amazon and other companies to achieve their climate goals, the tech giant's chief of sustainability, Kara Hurst, said during an Axios virtual event on Thursday.

The big picture: Amazon aims to hit carbon neutrality in 2040, 10 years earlier than the Paris climate accord. The company plans to reach its goal in part by helping companies develop climate-friendly technologies through a $2 billion venture fund. The first recipients were announced on Thursday.

Amazon stakes climate tech startups

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Amazon just named the first recipients of money from the $2 billion venture fund it rolled out in June to help companies develop climate friendly technologies.

Driving the news: Amazon, which has pledged to have "net zero" emissions by 2040, said on Thursday morning initial recipients are...

39 mins ago - World

One-year anniversary of Beirut blast marked by grief, anger

White roses are seen on portraits of victims of last year's Beirut port blast in the Lebanese capital, as Lebanon marks on August 4, 2021. Photo: Joseph Eid/AFP via Getty Images

Fluctuating between feelings of sadness, grief and anger, Beirut residents on Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of the port explosion that killed more than 200 people and injured thousands of others.

The big picture: No senior official has been held accountable for the blast, which was caused by a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely at the port for years, per Reuters.